The education establishment is pulling out all the stops to stifle the movement to expand the use of technology to modernize the way students learn.
Digital education is a growing form of school choice. Virtual charter schools are a natural way to provide access to top-notch instruction for students, regardless of their geographical location. But the protectors of the status quo are doing everything they can do stop it.
Finally, their true colors are showing.
Debbie Squires, a representative of a school principal’s association, recently told the Michigan House Education Committee that while parents do indeed care for their children, they’re not knowledgeable enough about what is best for their children.
This is a standard line of thinking – those with the background and “expertise” know what’s best for children, not their parents. See recent articles on the “school food police” for further evidence.
The other line of attack is that “profits” are evil and that no one should be making money in education, even if for-profit companies provide quality instruction for children.
Michigan Parents for Schools (but apparently not virtual charter schools) recently urged its members to contact lawmakers and demand that they reject the virtual charter bill, which would remove the cap on the number of schools allowed in the state. The subject line of the email read, “Let's make sure online schools help kids, not pad profits.”
This is an interesting criticism because ultimately, lots of people make money off education. Textbook companies make money. Contractors make money. Teachers make money. Administrators make money.
But who’s accountable when taxpayers are ripped off by government schools that aren’t delivering results?
Say, for example, Muskegon Heights school district in my own quaint community in western Michigan.
Recent data shows that 6.8% of 11th graders are proficient in reading and writing while only 2.2% of students are proficient in math. Meanwhile, the school district is nearly broke and may not be able to meet its payroll for the rest of the academic year.
Someone is grossly mismanaging district funds (perhaps making a profit?) while the children go without a decent education. Where is the outrage from the establishment about that?
Perhaps the Michigan Parents for Schools group should call a few Muskegon Heights parents, to see what they think.
My bet is that most, if not all, of those parents would welcome a digital education option, a charter school option, a school voucher option – anything to get their kids out of that miserable “not-for-profit” government school district.
And they probably wouldn’t care if some company was making money while teaching their children, as long as their children learned.